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Blessed Be: Questions from Non-Book Readers, Answers from Book Readers

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I haven't read the book and I hope someone can answers me . for how long the handmaids are trained In the center ?did they stay at the center for 2 years ? I find the time line confusing.  Was June working for another couple before or she was assigned to Fred and Serena as soon as the formation ended ? If I remember correctly in the first episode when June arrives in the house, someone asked her if she has done it before and she said yes, it is written in the book, or I just wasn't paying attention when I was watching?  I hope you guys understand what I am saying I am French so my comments can be filled with mistakes ;) 

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13 hours ago, FrenchPotterHead said:

If I remember correctly in the first episode when June arrives in the house, someone asked her if she has done it before and she said yes, it is written in the book, or I just wasn't paying attention when I was watching?  

 

Spoiler

In the book it’s said to be her third post — I don’t remember if the show gave a number or just said it wasn’t her first.

Edited by jennblevins · Reason: Formatting

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It's been years since I read the book, so I'm hoping someone can provide some context.

I was super confused about how Gilead decided to solve their fertility crisis. If people weren't having babies, why was sex regulated to only once per week during the ceremony? And why only between Commander and Handmaiden? You'd think that to increase the odds of conception, they'd want to do it often, and for some of the lower classes to procreate as well, so they'd have children to adopt. I know they thought sex was bad (well, that pleasure was bad), but if it meant a baby, then wouldn't logic dictate that it'd be ok to say, screw once a day to increase the odds? And seeing as how June's daughter was adopted by a high ranked family, it doesn't appear that children could ONLY be made from commander DNA - that they'd take just about anything (which is why Serena suggested that Offred sleep with Nick). So, in the book do they address WHY exactly these rules were made when they're pretty much contrary to one of Gilead's main goals, i.e. to solve infertility? 

Also, if the handmaids are such a precious resource, then why are the wives allowed to mistreat them? Why are the Aunts? I know our reproductive systems aren't exactly fragile, but all the constant electric shocks, slaps, falls, etc. not to mention the stress of the situation - they can't be good for any person, let alone a woman trying to conceive. It makes no sense to me that the handmaids were considered "sacred" and protected in one way (by guards, chaperones, shopping partners, etc.) but yet literally no one gave a shit if they got pushed around by the wives or Aunts. What? Why? 

And why did the wives have any power at all? If they were barren, and they weren't allowed to contribute to the household (or to please their husbands), then why weren't they the ones being replaced by fertile women - like the handmaidens? I just don't understand why in this hierarchy, the ones who actually had all the power (and not just in their own eyes; everyone acknowledged how valuable a resource they were), were the ones at the bottom of the totem pole.

I was missing these explanations in the show, and can't remember if the book covered them. Can anyone provide some insight? My overall feeling after watching the show, was that it felt very 'plot=holey'. Like, it was all about the message, but the story wasn't airtight. I'd love for someone to correct me!

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23 hours ago, Sugar said:

It's been years since I read the book, so I'm hoping someone can provide some context.

I was super confused about how Gilead decided to solve their fertility crisis. If people weren't having babies, why was sex regulated to only once per week during the ceremony? And why only between Commander and Handmaiden? You'd think that to increase the odds of conception, they'd want to do it often, and for some of the lower classes to procreate as well, so they'd have children to adopt. I know they thought sex was bad (well, that pleasure was bad), but if it meant a baby, then wouldn't logic dictate that it'd be ok to say, screw once a day to increase the odds? And seeing as how June's daughter was adopted by a high ranked family, it doesn't appear that children could ONLY be made from commander DNA - that they'd take just about anything (which is why Serena suggested that Offred sleep with Nick). So, in the book do they address WHY exactly these rules were made when they're pretty much contrary to one of Gilead's main goals, i.e. to solve infertility? 

Spoiler

It's not once a week, it's once per month, supposedly when they are "fertile" but since they reject modern science and doctors?  I guess they are taking temperatures and counting days.  No one addresses anything except for the men in power making the rules, they just do as told.



Also, if the handmaids are such a precious resource, then why are the wives allowed to mistreat them? Why are the Aunts? I know our reproductive systems aren't exactly fragile, but all the constant electric shocks, slaps, falls, etc. not to mention the stress of the situation - they can't be good for any person, let alone a woman trying to conceive. It makes no sense to me that the handmaids were considered "sacred" and protected in one way (by guards, chaperones, shopping partners, etc.) but yet literally no one gave a shit if they got pushed around by the wives or Aunts. What? Why? 

Spoiler

See my above answer, in the actual books it's even worse as far as mistakes being made if fertility is really the goal.  (you can go to the book thread for more in depth answers if you wish.



And why did the wives have any power at all? If they were barren, and they weren't allowed to contribute to the household (or to please their husbands), then why weren't they the ones being replaced by fertile women - like the handmaidens? I just don't understand why in this hierarchy, the ones who actually had all the power (and not just in their own eyes; everyone acknowledged how valuable a resource they were), were the ones at the bottom of the totem pole.

Spoiler

Because their husbands have power.  That's the ONLY reason.  They have to pretend to be pro-marriage and family after all.  Again, more in the book thread if you want it.



I was missing these explanations in the show, and can't remember if the book covered them. Can anyone provide some insight? My overall feeling after watching the show, was that it felt very 'plot=holey'. Like, it was all about the message, but the story wasn't airtight. I'd love for someone to correct me!

My answers in spoilers in your post.  Hope they help a bit.  You can get more answers in Palimpsest book vs show if you want.

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On 5/8/2017 at 7:28 PM, greekmom said:

One thing I forgot to mention... did anyone notice in the show that none of the wives have any pets? There are no cats, no dogs, no pet birds in Gilead. So besides praying for a baby all day, what the heck do the wives do? They have the Marthas to cook and clean.  There is no livestock for them to care of. No gardens. They can't read and I guess television doesn't exist except to advise of updates on the war?!  No wonder they torture the Handmaidens -- nothing else to really do.

And yet episode 1, you hear a dog bark (somewhere near their property).

 

My question besides the obvious inefficiency of the dumb handmaid system (and if they truly had no reproductive tech, how did they know who was fertile?) is what happens to the kids they have if they are fertile?

 

Kind of hard to imagine some rich, powerful dude giving up his kid to be a handmaid.

 

Is this addressed?

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20 minutes ago, stan4 said:

My question besides the obvious inefficiency of the dumb handmaid system (and if they truly had no reproductive tech, how did they know who was fertile?) is what happens to the kids they have if they are fertile?

 

Kind of hard to imagine some rich, powerful dude giving up his kid to be a handmaid.

 

Is this addressed?

Rich, powerful dudes didn't give up their daughters to be handmaids. Handmaids were women who'd committed "crimes" by Gilead law, including but not limited to: being divorced, being married to a previously divorced man (June), being a lesbian (Emily, Moira), having children out of wedlock (Janine), being an intellectual (Emily again). If they hadn't been potentially fertile, they would have been designated "unwomen" and sent to the colonies. As for knowing who was fertile, most handmaids have given birth to healthy children pre-Gilead (June, Emily, Janine). Perhaps there was also some low-tech ovulation testing.

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6 hours ago, stan4 said:

And yet episode 1, you hear a dog bark (somewhere near their property).

 

 

Wasn't Emily half-hartedly playing with a Wive's dog in one episode?

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2 hours ago, marinw said:

Wasn't Emily half-hartedly playing with a Wive's dog in one episode?

Yes and the wife commented how happy he seemed to have someone play with him again.

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In the book the wives did a lot of knitting. They knit scarves and socks for the soldiers at the front but because they were bored, they knit very intricate patterns instead of simple utility items. Offred notes the ridiculousness of it.

Personally I quite enjoy knitting but I like it as an enhancement to watching certain types of 'cosy' tv, like a Christmas movie or a comedic factual programme about the eating habits of previous civilisations. If I was just knitting as a form of entertainment I think I'd actually find it really tedious. In the series we see Serena painting a lot.

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22 hours ago, chocolatine said:

 Handmaids were women who'd committed "crimes" by Gilead law, including but not limited to: being divorced, being married to a previously divorced man (June), being a lesbian (Emily, Moira), having children out of wedlock (Janine), being an intellectual (Emily again). 

But then why in S1E3 did the Eye guy come and ask why Ofred didn't report that Ofglen was gay?

Shouldn't they have known she was bc that was her gender-traitor reaon for being a handmaid?

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On 4/23/2018 at 10:07 PM, stan4 said:

But then why in S1E3 did the Eye guy come and ask why Ofred didn't report that Ofglen was gay?

Shouldn't they have known she was bc that was her gender-traitor reaon for being a handmaid?

I may not be remembering that scene 100% correctly, but I think they were asking whether June knew that Emily had been having a relationship with a Martha. It was supposedly common knowledge that Emily was gay because she'd previously referred to herself as a "carpet munching gender traitor".

BTW, since this thread is about the book, I want to clarify the book gave very little info about Ofglen (not even her real name), so we don't know whether she was gay. Book Moira though was definitely gay, and the part where women were forced into handmaid-ship because of the "crimes" they'd committed was stated in the book as well.

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14 hours ago, chocolatine said:

I may not be remembering that scene 100% correctly, but I think they were asking whether June knew that Emily had been having a relationship with a Martha. It was supposedly common knowledge that Emily was gay because she'd previously referred to herself as a "carpet munching gender traitor".

BTW, since this thread is about the book, I want to clarify the book gave very little info about Ofglen (not even her real name), so we don't know whether she was gay. Book Moira though was definitely gay, and the part where women were forced into handmaid-ship because of the "crimes" they'd committed was stated in the book as well.

Just watched it and they specifically ask why she did not report her for being a gender traitor.

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In the S02.e01-02 thread, @Milburn Stone wrote:

My question is about Season 2 generally, but this thread would seem to be the best place to ask it.

Quote

 

I gave up on Season 1 because of my great admiration for the book. I felt like Season 1 fell so short of doing the novel justice that I didn't want to degrade my experience of Atwood's achievement. 

But my understanding is that they "finished" the book in Season 1, and that Season 2 is entirely new material. This gives me hope that I might like Season 2 better.

Is my understanding correct (i.e., Season 2 is all new ground)? If so, is there anything I need to know about how Season 1 sets up Season 2 in the event Season 1 ended differently from the book?

 

Basically, yes...this is all new ground.  I mean, we're only 2 episodes in, so I can't answer definitively but I think we're doing with the actual action of the novel, although there may still be flashbacks to things from the book.  I think, though, if you've read the book, you're probably good to go for season 2.  Personally, I'd love to hear your take on it as someone who is seeing it as a continuation of the book and not the second season of the show.

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I'll add that much will probably be from the book, things that were left out of the first season.  For example we will see

Spoiler

June's mother at least in flashbacks, and her activism.

The biggest departure from the books may begin to be rectified this season as well since I read that the writers

Spoiler

are about to address the race issues which were integral to Atwood's story.

Which?  YAY!

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I'll also add that it will be very interesting to see where they go re: the book when it comes to the very last chapter/afterword, the lecture given by the professor on the history of Gilead. (BTW, when my daughter read the book she didn't even realize that was part of it ... stopped after the end of the "regular" part and I had to tell her "GO BACK AND READ THE LAST PART AND THEN WE CAN TALK ABOUT IT"). 

I'm curious how much of that they'll get to, and how much of it will be portrayed in S2 as it was in the book.

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14 minutes ago, PamelaMaeSnap said:

I'll also add that it will be very interesting to see where they go re: the book when it comes to the very last chapter/afterword,

Spoiler

the lecture given by the professor on the history of Gilead. (BTW, when my daughter read the book she didn't even realize that was part of it

... stopped after the end of the "regular" part and I had to tell her "GO BACK AND READ THE LAST PART AND THEN WE CAN TALK ABOUT IT"). 

I'm curious how much of that they'll get to, and how much of it will be portrayed in S2 as it was in the book.

I tagged part of that.  If it hasn't been on the show we tag things in this thread.

Anyway, I was really surprised in this last episode that Elizabeth was in The Boston Globe building and didn't start

Spoiler

to make her tapes!  Maybe she will soon, and that could be the place she picks up a spare tape recorder as well.

Edited by Umbelina
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Thanks, Umbelina ... honestly did not realize that line should be tagged! But I understand now that if it wasn't shown in S1, it needs to be tagged even if it isn't a "spoiler" per se!

I DO wonder, since we know she has been involved in writing S2, whether Atwood will release a book that covers this season. Anyone know?

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On 4/22/2018 at 11:29 PM, stan4 said:

My question besides the obvious inefficiency of the dumb handmaid system (and if they truly had no reproductive tech, how did they know who was fertile?) is what happens to the kids they have if they are fertile?

Kind of hard to imagine some rich, powerful dude giving up his kid to be a handmaid.

Is this addressed?

On 4/23/2018 at 12:01 AM, chocolatine said:

Rich, powerful dudes didn't give up their daughters to be handmaids. Handmaids were women who'd committed "crimes" by Gilead law, including but not limited to: being divorced, being married to a previously divorced man (June), being a lesbian (Emily, Moira), having children out of wedlock (Janine), being an intellectual (Emily again). If they hadn't been potentially fertile, they would have been designated "unwomen" and sent to the colonies. As for knowing who was fertile, most handmaids have given birth to healthy children pre-Gilead (June, Emily, Janine). Perhaps there was also some low-tech ovulation testing.

I think the original question, is what happens to the girls who are born now (to the handmaids or wives)?   My guess is that the daughter of one of the elite (Commanders, etc.) would be raised in their home, and then promptly married off to another elite at whatever age is now determined to be marriageable (15? 16? I'd guess they aren't waiting much past then.)  If the daughter doesn't get pregnant in a certain amount of time, then they bring in a handmaid.  Just a guess - does the book provide any answers? 

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IIRC, in the book the Commanders' Daughters are married off to Angels (soldiers) who have distinguished themselves on the battlefield--I believe Offred goes to a mass marriage ceremony at some point where we see that. IIRC again, the Daughters *are* very young when they are married--like 16 or so. Presumably their husbands are 10-20 years older, and presumably those married couples are meant to become the next generation of Commanders and Wives.

It's obviously not a sustainable social system on the whole, but Gilead was more concerned with being oppressive and tyrannical than realistically planning for the future.

Edited by stealinghome
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On 4/28/2018 at 7:29 AM, PamelaMaeSnap said:

Thanks, Umbelina ... honestly did not realize that line should be tagged! But I understand now that if it wasn't shown in S1, it needs to be tagged even if it isn't a "spoiler" per se!

I DO wonder, since we know she has been involved in writing S2, whether Atwood will release a book that covers this season. Anyone know?

There are hints she is writing a sequel.  It was discussed in depth in the spoiler thread here right after they announced a season two.

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Thanks, stealinghome.  I agree, not a sustainable system.  As noted above, the women who were made handmaids were known to be fertile, but somehow damaged goods (crimes under the current rules).  Once this batch is done - through either death, infertility, menopause, etc. - then the only way to get new handmaids is through the much more limited supply of girls growing up now, and then the even more limited number of girls currently being born.  And those girls would first get married off.  So it would only be those who then committed "crimes" who would end up in the handmaid system. 

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I wonder if the children of the Econowives - if they have any - are fair game for the Handmaiden system?  If those wives are fertile then the Commanders and their loathsome toadies would have no problem both drumming up charges against those women or their husbands and taking them into the Handmaiden system or commandeering any daughters they have.

Sort of like what was done to serfs in feudal days.  

But in any case, besides being utterly abhorrent, it's a very poorly thought out system at least as far as we know of it.

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A few notes:

All book talk is allowed in the Blessed Be: Questions from Non-Book Readers, Anwers from Book Readers  and Palimpsest: Novel vs Show threads. These threads do not require spoiler tags.

Don't try to mod the threads. If you think someone is breaking the rules, report it and do not engage.

If you have any questions, feel free to pm the mods for this forum, myself : @17wheatthins or my co-mod: @Cranberry

Thank you.

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It's been a long time since I read the book.  Was June's mom an abortion doctor in the book as well?  

Also, the portrayal of her in the show seems mostly positive, but wasn't it more mixed in the book?

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June's mom was a Doctor in the book as well, and she did perform abortions, along with other procedures.

Remember, in the book June remembered her mom in both ways, annoying, an activist, kind of like an average mother daughter thing.  Now the show has moved beyond that a bit, and I think they were showing us that now that she's escaping, and has a moment to think?  Now that she read and clipped all those newspaper articles and put together how Gilead came to be?  She realizes her mother was right all along, and that June had her eyes closed to so much.

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2 hours ago, Brn2bwild said:

Also, the portrayal of her in the show seems mostly positive, but wasn't it more mixed in the book?

I thought the scene were June's mom got drunk and urged June not to marry Luke was almost exactly as it was written in the book. Also, and it was very subtle, and maybe I only noticed it because it's totally something my mother would do, but when June tells her mom's friends about her promotion to assistant editor, her mom jumps in and says "and Moira is building a website for a queer women's collective" because she obviously thinks what Moira does is more meaningful than her own daughter's achievements.

I do remember June in the book being resentful about being dragged to protests and rallies as a child. On the show, young June was smiling and seemed happy to be there.

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Just now, chocolatine said:

I thought the scene were June's mom got drunk and urged June not to marry Luke was almost exactly as it was written in the book. Also, and it was very subtle, and maybe I only noticed it because it's totally something my mother would do, but when June tells her mom's friends about her promotion to assistant editor, her mom jumps in and says "and Moira is building a website for a queer women's collective" because she obviously thinks what Moira does is more meaningful than her own daughter's achievements.

I do remember June in the book being resentful about being dragged to protests and rallies as a child. On the show, young June was smiling and seemed happy to be there.

I remember reading about (not reading the scene directly, but reading an article discussing) a scene where June's mom attended a rally where the women burned porn.  The implication was that they were okay with the curtailing of speech as well, albeit for far different reasons than the conservative Christians.  Did anyone who read more recently get that sense from the scene as well, or was that purely the article writer's POV?

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1 hour ago, Brn2bwild said:

I remember reading about (not reading the scene directly, but reading an article discussing) a scene where June's mom attended a rally where the women burned porn.  The implication was that they were okay with the curtailing of speech as well, albeit for far different reasons than the conservative Christians.  Did anyone who read more recently get that sense from the scene as well, or was that purely the article writer's POV?

That’s correct—an adult June remembers being dragged as a child to an anti-porn (esp torture porn) rally and being invited to throw one of the magazines on the fire. (Iirc, hilariously, her mom was like “Don’t LOOK at it!”) It’s one of the nods to the way that Gilead co-opts the tenets and rhetoric of second-wave feminism in the novel.

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6 hours ago, chocolatine said:

I do remember June in the book being resentful about being dragged to protests and rallies as a child. On the show, young June was smiling and seemed happy to be there.

To be fair to very young June, I think that's a totally normal response for a child who thinks she's been taken to feed the ducks and finds herself tricked into going to a protest. Especially such an intensely emotionally charged protest as that described in the book. The one we saw on the show would also be very emotionally charged and potentially upsetting to a small child. I take my 5 year old to protests like that reasonably often but I talk to him first about where we are going and why it's happening. Tricking a child into attending that kind of event instead of preparing them actually seems like it would be a good way of turning them into the kind of adult that wilfully turns a blind eye to the disintegration of society.

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3 hours ago, AllyB said:

To be fair to very young June, I think that's a totally normal response for a child who thinks she's been taken to feed the ducks and finds herself tricked into going to a protest.

Oh, absolutely. I was just replying to the poster who thought June's relationship with her mother was portrayed less positively in the book. I got the impression from book June that instead of going to so many protests she would have preferred to do more "normal" kid activities. I also got the impression that June marrying young and having a child wasn't a coincidence - she's always wanted the traditional, nuclear family she never had growing up.

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I need to re-read the book. *Orders from Library*

We know that Gilead eventually collapses. Does the novel specify how long the Republic of Gilead lasts? Did it collapse because it was unsustainable, or was there a revolution? Did nations such as Canada help? Is whatever replaced Gilead better for women in particular and all people in general?

I hope the final episodes of this show gets into this.

Edited by marinw

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I checked Sparknotes because my recollection of this part is also vague and I can't find anything about the approximate end date of Gilead or how it fell, only that it's long gone by 2195. There is mention of a Middle Period, so I'm guessing the fall isn't exactly around the corner. An interesting fact that I forgot was the examination of the identity of Commander Fred. While Waterford is decided to be the most likely candidate, B. Frederick Judd is also mentioned. And he sounds like a real charmer, coming up with the concept of Particicution and women controlling other women. So Aunts and "shopping partners". I now expect him to show up before the end of this season.

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3 hours ago, marinw said:

I need to re-read the book. *Orders from Library*

We know that Gilead eventually collapses. Does the novel specify how long the Republic of Gilead lasts? Did it collapse because it was unsustainable, or was there a revolution? Did nations such as Canada help? Is whatever replaced Gilead better for women in particular and all people in general?

I hope the final episodes of this show gets into this.

 

YouTube also has the audio version of the book, which I listened to because I can't find my damn copy.  That's a book I've kept since it first came out, no matter how many times I've moved around to various states.  That said, I'm once again drowning in books here, even after donating truckloads when I moved to the coast the last time.

The show has told us how it happened now.  There were attacks on Congress and the White house, which were blamed on the Middle East.  All of the elected leaders, or most of them, were killed then, also if I had to guess?  Sons of Jacob were well placed in the Congress and in the White house, which is why the attacks worked, some of them probably planted the bombs and held the machine guns.  Martial law was declared, which suspended the constitution.  Protesters were gunned down, newspapers closed, intelligentsia rounded up and murdered.  Propaganda and fake new then dominated.  In addition, global warming, over use of chemicals, and nuclear power plant meltdowns had devastated much of the continental US.  The Sons of Jacob planned the attacks and the take over well, Serena was helpful to them in the beginning as well. 

The only thing Atwood included that is not a reality is the money situation.  Cash no longer existed, everyone used something like a credit card.  That was the way Gilead took all the women's money and reassigned it to men.  The banks knew, as they would, female accounts.  With one click on a computer all women's accounts were closed.

26 minutes ago, bijoux said:

I checked Sparknotes because my recollection of this part is also vague and I can't find anything about the approximate end date of Gilead or how it fell, only that it's long gone by 2195. There is mention of a Middle Period, so I'm guessing the fall isn't exactly around the corner. An interesting fact that I forgot was the examination of the identity of Commander Fred. While Waterford is decided to be the most likely candidate, B. Frederick Judd is also mentioned. And he sounds like a real charmer, coming up with the concept of Particicution and women controlling other women. So Aunts and "shopping partners". I now expect him to show up before the end of this season.

Yeah, there really isn't an exact date.

We do know Gilead had 3 periods before it ended, either collapsing on itself, or that and with outside help above and beyond the total world boycott.  Each period of Gilead got worse for the women, so anyone expecting sunshine and roses soon needs a different show.  We may be entering the middle period this year, and the show writers may finally include the racism, changing it to a "middle period" event?  I think the middle period lasts a while though, and then the end period will begin, which should be even more horrible.

Some are still alive when Gilead collapses though, so I'm thinking "decades" not millenniums.  When I read the book, I remember thinking/feeling it lasted about 30-60 years, but yes, all speculation there.

Edited by Umbelina · Reason: added the deaths in the white house/congress
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Book readers - what happens to the children of the handmaids once they are of age? Is that covered in the book? 

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33 minutes ago, Boofish said:

Book readers - what happens to the children of the handmaids once they are of age? Is that covered in the book? 

It's covered a bit, I can't remember what exactly happens to the boys, or if that was mentioned.  The girls are married off at around 15 or 16 in group weddings.  The boys are probably groomed to be future leaders, since they come from the ruling class, the girls destined to be Wives, there is nothing else for them.

I doubt they would be very protected though, if they broke any of Gilead's rules.

That is all covered in a cryptic afterword, so it's not a June first person POV at that point.

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On 5/7/2018 at 4:32 PM, Umbelina said:

We do know Gilead had 3 periods before it ended, either collapsing on itself, or that and with outside help above and beyond the total world boycott.  Each period of Gilead got worse for the women, so anyone expecting sunshine and roses soon needs a different show. 

I have the book from the library, I should read the last chapter!

When watching the show, I tell myself that Gilead has to collapse because it is too stupid and is unsustainable  economically and socially. But in the real world repressive regimes like those in Iran and North Korea have carried on for decades. 

Edited by marinw
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On 2018-04-23 at 8:07 PM, stan4 said:

But then why in S1E3 did the Eye guy come and ask why Ofred didn't report that Ofglen was gay?

Shouldn't they have known she was bc that was her gender-traitor reaon for being a handmaid?

The only way Offred could knownthat Ofglen was gay is if Ofglen told her. And Ofglen would never do that because being gay is illegal. Unless she felt she could really trust Offred not to rat on her. And she would only have that trust if Offred was tied up with supporting the “degenerate lifestyle.” Making Offred a criminal. If Offred was loyal to the regime, she’d run to the first authority she found and tell them that Ofglen admitted to being a gender traitor. She didn’t. So she’s a traitor. 

Essentially, I think it’s a big trap to prove Offred is complicit with May Day. 

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 It’s hard to believe a system of this oppressive would last more than 50 years. And 50 years is long enough to have a beginning middle and end. The reason I say that primarily is that it’s oppressive to the leaders of it it’s self. The commanders can’t have sex with their own wives, and are in danger of being punished for having elicit sex with Jezabels. That doesn’t seem sustainable. In addition, no doubt, some of the commanders truly loved their wives, and are not thrilled about having wives and daughters who now cannot read. Super repressive regimes tend not to last terribly long, Even the Soviet Union collapsed. Of course now it’s making a huge resurgence but that’s another topic.

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On 4/30/2018 at 12:33 PM, boes said:

I wonder if the children of the Econowives - if they have any - are fair game for the Handmaiden system?  If those wives are fertile then the Commanders and their loathsome toadies would have no problem both drumming up charges against those women or their husbands and taking them into the Handmaiden system or commandeering any daughters they have.

Sort of like what was done to serfs in feudal days.  

But in any case, besides being utterly abhorrent, it's a very poorly thought out system at least as far as we know of it.

What if Gileads “collapses” not because people realize how evil it is, but because the children of these Handmaids are mostly fertile, & keeping up the population stops being such a priority?

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@Umbelina, you mentioned in the Spoilers thread the Jezebels competitions from the books. I’m a book reader but I’ve forgotten what these are. Can you help a sister out and refresh my memory? TIA!

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46 minutes ago, Pachengala said:

@Umbelina, you mentioned in the Spoilers thread the Jezebels competitions from the books. I’m a book reader but I’ve forgotten what these are. Can you help a sister out and refresh my memory? TIA!

It's in the NEW epilogue.  Something about competitions between various Jezebels outfits in different communities.  Sort of like a perverted "Miss America" in my mind anyway, also, mention of buying, selling, renting trading them between locations (Boston to NYC or Chicago, wherever)  I think.

I need to get a copy of that damn book, I can't find mine.

ETA See post below for what clarification I was able to find.

Edited by Umbelina

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https://1.cdn.edl.io/rOZeEoIzqLA5h7b4cDX6aDEBZuJXyRRW0YD6o0ns1BB0gpbC.pdf

Yay!  A transcript, I can't quote from a PDF though.  So much stuff I'd kind of forgotten, even after listening to the book on You Tube soon after the show was announced.

Fred's fate on page 233

Judd sounds a lot like Commander Lawrence in this, begins on page 231

Mention of Romania's restrictions on women on page 230

Infertility causes on 229

OK, I can't find the Jezebel contests, and I'm positive I didn't imagine them.  Maybe it's in the new epilogue just released (audio only.)  If so, it's probably somewhere in the first 3 pages of the spoiler thread, since I kind of started it for that reason, to find out what the audio extras were.  I'll go see what we eventually found there.

@Pachengala

Edited by Umbelina
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Quote

 

8. What other kinds of liberties did those in power enjoy?

As it turns out, there may have been more than one Jezebel in Gilead … and the women working there may or may not have been passed around like "star football players."

 

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/handmaids-tale-audio-book-10-questions-991282

I think the writer meant to have pluralized Jezebel(s) there.

The other new "10 questions" additional info published last year are there too.  I don't feel like trying to find the "contest" part, but I'm sure I read it somewhere.  Apologies, it's from the "new" book, not the old.

Edited by Umbelina

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Thanks so much, @Umbelina—that was really thorough! It’s been a million years since I’ve read the book and while I probably should, I don’t want to reread it at this particular moment in history. I’ll check the first couple pages of the thread for the competition stuff; it sounds gross and horrible but I am still curious.

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16 minutes ago, Pachengala said:

Thanks so much, @Umbelina—that was really thorough! It’s been a million years since I’ve read the book and while I probably should, I don’t want to reread it at this particular moment in history. I’ll check the first couple pages of the thread for the competition stuff; it sounds gross and horrible but I am still curious.

I looked, can't find it.  It was very frustrating trying to find the newer book spoilers, and I really thought after a year they would all be out there.  I also just realized that maybe I'm supposed to tag spoilers for the "new" additions to the book.  If so, sorry mods!

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I vaguely recall that when the book came out, it was seen as a roman a clef on the ascendant Religious Right in this country, as Reagan had been elected.

Are there any indications that Atwood wrote this in reaction to Reagan and the Religious Right?  The book was published in 1985 according to the wiki.  So she could have conceived of the book after half or all of Reagan's first term.

One the one hand, there were reasons to fear the political power they were starting to wield.  OTOH, it's hard to see them being able to conquer and virtually root out the rest of America, even in the '1980s.  Or did US become weakened by other factors and they were able to consolidate power and conquer all survivors and most of the regions?  Even then, you don't think of them as military geniuses.

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